ESPN Screams "LeBron vs. Durant!" Um, Dirk Beat 'Em Both.

I miss basketball.

But the kind played with rules and defense and meaning. Not that And1 bullshit that ESPN is hyping today.

There was a summer pro-am game Tuesday night at Morgan State in Baltimore. Approximately 4,500 fans packed the Talmadge L. Hill Field House to watch Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The stats say Durant scored 59 and LeBron 32.

The truth is this is bad for basketball.

From watching the highlights it looked like a dunk contest, complete with overreacting fans who did the thing where you outstretch your arms, open your mouth real wide and fall into your friends like you ain't never seen nothing like that before!

Didn't last summer teach us anything? Substance > Style.

Halfway across the world a giant German is working on Flamingo Fadeaways, practicing in an effort to lead his team into the 2012 Olympics and, oh yeah, modestly polishing his trophies.

Bet he hasn't dunked all summer. Not once.

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Rick Carlisle Throws a Better Pitch Than Colby Lewis Before Rangers' Loss

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Not much good to say about the Rangers' 11-5 loss to the Red Sox Tuesday night. Colby Lewis gave up two more homers, both to Adrian Gonzalez. Texas' lead in the West is down to 3.5 games with 32 remaining. But ...

Before the game Mavericks' head coach Rick Carlisle threw out a decent first pitch (caught the corner of the plate, framed nicely by Rangers' manager Ron Washington) while claiming he just now watched his team's clinching Game 6 win over the Heat in the NBA Finals.

I've probably watched it 10 times this summer.

That's Dirk Nowitzki -- speaking of, been trying to tell you stubborn folks for years that it's No-Witz-kee -- and Jason Terry and now Carlisle who've hopped up on the mound in Arlington.

Who be the best?

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Dallas Mavericks Already Putting Together Their 2012 Team. Sorta.

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The NBA is locked out. Dirk Nowitzki is preparing to play for his home Germany in Olympic qualifying. League stars are pondering playing overseas in Turkey and Italy and Spain and such in preparation of missed games next season.

But, alas, the tireless work of a dance team never ceases. The Mavericks held auditions for its 2011-12 team over the weekend at The Anatole.

Analyze the roster candidates right this way ...

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Defending Champion Mavericks are Now Must-See TV

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The champagne isn't quite dry and the NBA lockout is just getting started, but how good does it sound to be already talking about the defending champion Mavericks?

Once a soft, underachieving team that nobody outside the Metroplex gave a dang about watching, the Mavs are now national hoops darlings. With Tuesday's release of the 2011-12 schedule, Dallas is featured 30 times on national TV to match the Boston Celtics for most appearances.

The Mavs begin the season by raising their championship banner Nov. 1 at American Airlines Center against the Chicago Bulls on TNT, and will host the Miami Heat on ABC as part of a marquee triple-header on Christmas day.

In all they play 10 games on ESPN, 10 on TNT, seven on NBA TV and three on ABC.

2011-12 Dallas Mavericks schedule.

Enjoy.

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Baseball Goes Bonkers: The Top 5 Championship Celebrations in Sports

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Watched South Carolina win their second consecutive College World Series last night. Their celebration -- gloves and hats flying in a giant infield dog pile -- got me to thinking:

Does baseball over-celebrate? Or, perhaps, do they do it just right?

Think about the Mavs' reaction after a 31-year wait to win the NBA Finals. Reduced to tears of joy Dirk Nowitzki left his teammates, who hugged and smiled but otherwise were humble and civilized.

You'll see more joyous, raucous celebrations on any given night in Major League Baseball after a walk-off win.

The Rangers had a dog pile after beating the Yankees to win the ALCS. The Stars wildly threw gloves and sticks upon winning the Stanley Cup. The Cowboys lifted coach Tom Landry after a ride after Super Bowl VI.

So, what's the best way to celebrate a championship?

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Dirk Nowitzki Goes on Drinking Binges? You Don't Say!

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Still amazed that the Mavericks won the NBA championship. Still surprised they did it without a playoff point from Roddy Beaubois (who should be ready for 2011-12 training camp in October after another foot surgery).

And I continue to be miffed at how little the sports world really knew about the Mavericks in general and Dirk Nowitzki in particular.

For example, Monday's belated buzz was "Dirk went on a drinking binge back in '06!" If that was news to you, then ...

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Almost All My NBA Texas Exes Live in ... Obscurity

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Soon as the Mavericks "drafted" Texas shooting guard Jordan Hamilton, I received texts and tweets and a couple of phone calls from excited fans. Hamilton played for the Longhorns, so he must be good, right?

W-R-O-N-G.

Not sure if any school has more NBA busts than the one down south in Austin. Rick Barnes' team was the only team to have three players drafted in the first round -- Hamilton, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph -- and yet somehow lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Arizona.

A lot of folks are somehow upset that Dallas didn't hang onto one of "our own." But a couple huge reasons why trading Hamilton and the No. 57 pick and acquiring Portland shooting guard Rudy Fernandez made perfect sense.

1. Fernandez makes the Mavericks better quicker. The current nucleus of 30-somethings doesn't have a huge window, so the time to win is here and now.

2. There's a long list of Texas exes who suggest Hamilton will flop at the next level.

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Dirk Nowitzki's Final Assist This Summer to ... Michael Young

His Flamingo Fadeaway on the mound with a basketball was funny. And his cartoonish, exaggerated Max Patkin-like delivery was funnier.

Dirk Nowitzki on Friday night was the best thing on a Rangers' pitching mound in a while.

Only thing better would've been if Michael Young's leaping catch wouldn't have saved Captain from taking one in the horse schnoz.

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The Top 5 Worst Draft Picks in the History of Your Dallas Mavericks

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Coulda been Kobe
Determining the best Mavs' pick of all-time is simple: Dirk Nowitzki.

You know the story. In 1998 then-general manager Don Nelson took the giant German in a draft-day switcheroo with the Milwaukee Bucks for the late, not-so-great Robert "Tractor" Trayor.

Just a week after their championship parade climaxed in the same building, tonight at American Airlines Center the Mavs will have the 26th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Dallas has to plan for the July 1 lockout, re-sign free agents Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea all the while trying to save some pennies for 2012 free agents such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

But first, they must make a pick that stays off this list of laughable misses. And even though he amassed more NBA Finals' tattoos (1) than playoff minutes (0), no, last year's top pick Dominique Jones doesn't sneak among the worst.

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2011 NBA Draft: Meh.

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Derrick Williams -- The best player available
Arizona forward Derrick Williams is a beast. He has 3-point shooting range, can score in the paint with either hand and has an NBA body that can bang and rebound on the low blocks.

And that's it.

The rest of the 2011 NBA Draft class: Weak to questionable. Yes, even projected No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving.

I'm a college hoops junkie but -- like you -- I only got to see him play 11 games for Duke last years because of a toe injury. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost 26 consecutive games last season, control this draft with picks No. 1 and 4. They also already have Baron Davis on their roster, so we'll see if another point guard makes sense.

The other drama tonight from Newark ...

Yawn.

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